By now, most us know that if you don’t want to get burned you should slather on some sunscreen.
It’s second nature when heading out into the sun. But what about all those other times when you’re outdoors, like hanging out the washing or walking to your closest café to get your daily caffeine fix? And what about the areas you’re likely to neglect, like your scalp or your eyes? We have spoken to top skin-care professionals to give you all the information on how to protect yourself.
Skipping SPF when you’re indoors
When you’re going straight from your car to the office, you may feel there’s no point putting on any sunscreen at all. Trouble is, UV light can travel right through the windows of your car and office – and it’s the UV light you need to be careful of. “The UVA rays can be as important [as UVB rays which cause sunburn] in terms of skin cancer development. A lot of my patients have more sun damage on the right side of their face, the driver’s side.” says dermoscopist and dermatologic surgeon Dr Anthony Tam.
Your skin-saving solution: If you’re not planning on being in the sun at all but are still worried about UVA rays, a mineral sunscreen or a sunscreen with zinc oxide and or titanium dioxide is ideal. With a non-mineral sunscreen you need to reapply every two or three hours because the ingredients act like a sponge to block the sun’s rays. Once ‘full’, it needs to be reapplied. But a mineral sunscreen acts more like a mirror, reflecting light off your skin. However, it’s still best to reapply if you’re heading outdoors. As for driving, Dr Tam says to “wear sunscreen, have a tint in the windows, and use the sun visor to protect from too much sun”.
Our picks: Invisible Zinc 4HR Water Resistant 50+, $20; Lancôme UV Expert GN-Shield, $79; and Cosmedix Reflect Broad Spectrum SPF30, $94.
Wearing only sunnies to protect your eyes
If you’re anything like us, we like to choose our sunglasses on what they look like. But what we should be doing is choosing them for their UVA and UVB protection, because sun exposure can not only cause wrinkles around your eyes but also cancer – sometimes even right along the lash line. Dermatologist Dr Anthony Tam thinks application around the eye is something to consider. “I do often see skin cancer on eyelid margins, especially lower lids, so maybe we should.”
Your skin-saving solution: Make sure when you apply sunscreen to your face, you take it all the way up to your lower lash line and over your eyelids. Naturally, some sunscreens are better than others for this so opt for non-irritating products.
Our pick: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Targeted Sun Defense Stick SPF50, $39.
Relying on your makeup for coverage
By now you should know better than to assume your foundation that boasts an SPF12 is going to give you enough protection from the sun. But what about BB and CC creams that have an SPF30? The problem is, even with a high SPF, sometimes people don’t apply enough to get the rating on the product.
Your skin-saving solution: Always go for a BB or a CC cream with an SPF50. That way, even if you don’t apply enough you might still be able to have about SPF30 on your face. Other than that, the best idea is to play it safe and wear a sunscreen under your makeup. Make sure you let the sunscreen dry for a few minutes before you apply your makeup, otherwise you’ll end up diluting it.
Our picks: Garnier Amber Solaire BB Cream SPF50, $17.50; Environ RAD spray, $65; and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Clear Face. $23.
So you’ve slapped a liberal amount of sunscreen on both your face and body to go out for a run – but what about your head? Even in the morning you should be donning a hat to cover the skin on your scalp – especially along your parting, which is where a common skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, can occur.
Your skin-saving solution: Remember to apply sunscreen to your neck, ears and lips when out exercising. For your nose, ears and lips, using a sunscreen stick will save you time without compromising on coverage.
Our picks: Aspect Envirostat Dry Touch SPF50, $29; Kiehl’s Lipbalm SPF15, $18; Neutrogena Beach Defence, $25; and Murad Essential-C Sun Balm, $54.
Grabbing a coffee without reapplying SPF
It may only be a 10-minute walk but if you think 10 minutes in the sun can’t hurt – you’re wrong. “The risk is not only about getting burnt, which damages the skin cell’s DNA,” says dermatologic surgeon Dr Tam. “UV radiation is cumulative, so can lead to damage showing up years down the line from too much exposure.” In short – it will lead to wrinkling, thickening of the skin and pigmentation. Cloudy days aren’t an exemption either, because UVA rays penetrate the atmosphere all year round and can both accelerate premature ageing and contribute to the
development of skin cancer.
Other times to be aware of: Hanging clothes on the line, washing your car outside, taking the dog for a quick walk around the block.
Your skin-saving solution: Dr Tam recommends putting sunscreen on in the morning “before you apply your makeup and then waiting at least 30 minutes” for it to absorb before you go outside. And if you’re planning to get that mid-morning coffee around 10am, Dr Tam says “touching up if it’s more than two hours since it was last applied is not a bad idea”. Of course, if you’re like us in the office, the last thing you want to do after you’ve pristinely applied your makeup is to undo all your good work by piling on further sunscreen. Solution? Opt for pressed power makeup or a translucent powder with SPF coverage you can brush on.